The Now United family just got a little bigger. The global pop group, founded by Spice Girls manager and ‘American Idol’ creator Simon Fuller, have added their 16th member — and it’s an Arab teen.
The months-long search for a new member from the Middle East and North Africa concluded on Monday morning, as Fuller himself announced that 18-year-old Lebanese songstress Nour Ardakani would officially be joining the multinational group.
“I think you are absolutely wonderful, and I think you would be perfect to join the group. And I would like to invite you to be the next member of Now United,” Fuller told the singer and dancer in a video call.
“Seriously, it’s me? You picked me?” asked Ardakani, to which Fuller replied: “You got it.”
Ardakani joins the group in Dubai later this week, after the members had come to the UAE to film a new music video for their song ‘Feel It Now’.
Founded in 2017, Now United in November of last year announced that, in collaboration with Pepsi, they were looking for a new member from the MENA region.
A month before that announcement, however, American member Noah Urrea hinted in an exclusive interview with Gulf News that they would be looking to add a Middle Eastern member.
“I would love for that to happen,” he told Gulf News in October 2019. “What’s so cool about Now United is that there’s 14 of us now, but we just announced that we’re gonna get a new member from Australia and we definitely have ... We’ve been talking about getting a new member from another place that … you never know. You just never know!”
Out of thousands of hopefuls in the MENA region, 13 were shortlisted. It came down to Ardakani and 15-year-old Emirati talent, Alya Al Ali.
Fuller picked Ardakani after hearing her recording of a new Now United song, ‘Habibi’.
“I’m so grateful for this opportunity to join Now United, to do what I love and represent the country that I love,” said Ardakani, who already has 46,000 Instagram followers at time of writing. “Singing and dancing is my passion and to be given the chance to do that with so many amazing talents from different countries and cultures is a dream come true for me.”
“In Nour, I have found a remarkable young performer,” said Fuller. “She has natural talent and is a wonderful pure singer with gentle emotion and warmth. However, it is her personality that impressed me the most. She has a calm confidence, a maturity and intelligence far in advance of her age. She comes from an extraordinary part of the world, rich in history, culture and the arts. Nour is the perfect choice and she will make the region and Lebanon very proud.”
The group’s members currently represent Mexico, Brazil, India, South Korea, Russia, China, the UK, America, Philippines, Canada, Japan, Germany, Finland, Senegal, Australia and Lebanon.
Now United is made up of Any Gabrielly, 17, Bailey May, 18, Heyoon Jeong, 23, Hina Yoshihara, 18, Joalin Loukamaa, 18, Josh Beauchamp, 20, Krystian Wang, 20, Lamar Morris, 20, Urrea, 19, Ardakani, 18, Sabina Hidalgo, 21, Savannah Clark, 17, Shivani Paliwal, 18, Sina Deinert, 22 and Sofya Plotnikova, 17.